Monday, November 17, 2008

taxi crashes on motrin

No doubt Daniel Ravinowicz, president of Taxi NYC is waking up with a Motrin headache today. His agency was responsible for launch of a video on Motrin's website that caused such an uproar in the twitterverse this weekend, the site had to be taken down and apologies zapped to protesters pronto. (Yea, that job must have made somebody's Sunday.)

Taxi's intentions were admirable: create a site-promo to target a niche audience, timed to coincide with inauguration of International Babywearing Week. (Babywearing? When I wore snuglis it was called…wearing snuglis.) Babywearing causes back pain + Motrin relieves backpain = Easy Sell. Or should have been. Problem was, team who created the video had obviously never had to wear a snugli or sling or whatever trendier contraption babywearers wear these days. That they weren't babybearers themselves and never consulted with people who were, seemed painfully obvious from copy intimating that wearing your baby is akin to accessorizing and one does it to "totally look like an official mom." (Um. Hello. It's 2008. Huge percentage of babywearers are dads.)

Spot went viral, but not in the way that they'd hoped.

Jessica Gottlieb, a blogger/mom who writes for National Lampoon, saw it and posted her outrage on the microblogging site Twitter. A few hours (and thousands of anti-Motrin tweets) later, #MotrinMoms was the #1 search on the site, eclipsing SNL for first time since Obama was elected.

Then it went youtube. Katja Presnal, PR and Social Media Consultant/Mom tweeted Holy Cow. I just can't believe the motrin ad. Speechless. But not for long. Her next post was, I'm making a video to boycot motrin-pls send your baby wearing pics if I can use them! A few hours later, she posted a protest video to youtube. As of this writing, it's received over 4000 hits.

Katja's video went live at 3 AM Sunday morning. By 8 PM the same day, the Motrin site hosting the offending ad had come down and apologies sent to commenters who'd posted objections to it.

Big Pharma: welcome to the world of social media, where it takes sore consumers less than 24 hours to make corporate bumblers responsible for it, feel their pain.


Unknown said...

It's even broader than that, I think.
All mommy issues seem to raise hackles like nothing else. Motrin/Taxi should have known that what seems inconsequential to the casual observer can create wars that make the abortion debate look subdued.
Also a bit of NASCAR Blindness here too- not realizing that babywearers (a new term to me too!) are regarded as kind of freaky elsewhere and thus likely to be overly defensive.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Thanks, Alan, for weighing in. And for your own excellent post.

I don't think this should be marginalized as a mommy issue, though. The spot apparently pissed off babywearers of both sexes. Aren't half of them Dads, as your tadpoles could confirm?

The problem is, Taxi/Motrin apparently didn't bother to vet creative with anyone from target audience. Honestly, if it was dogfood, wouldn't they have consulted a few people with dogs?

The Hill's said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rascalpants said...

(whoops... posted last comment with my wife's account)

This ad offends the normal mother because it compared their child to a Prada bag. And not only that, but it also offends fathers who practice baby wearing, the Attachment Parenting or more holistic crowd, and that last bit of text that says you have to strap a baby to your back to be an "Official Mom" would infuriate me if i was a working mother.


Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@rascalpants That was the one that derailed me, too. The copy (delivered in valley girl voice) that you wear your baby to "totally look like an official mom." Um, not because it's the way to tote around weight equivalent to 3 bags of kittie litter most comfortably?

Good point about Dads who didn't cotton to Motrin's suggestion that carrying a baby around makes them look crazy.

We shouldn't marginalize this as a "mad mommy" issue. Motrin is an equal opportunity offender.

Jessica Gottlieb said...

If they wanted to talk about me looking like an official mom I coul'a given them a laundry list of stuff to make fun of (and the laundry too).

Thanks for a great and fair mention.

Note to Motrin and to Taxi: Spend the day buying every baby sling you can get your hands on and sew Motrin patches on them, giveaway at holistic centers.

own it, spin it, take it back.

Anonymous said...

While we can't marginalize this as a mommy issue, we can say that it was doomed to happen. Moms are one of the most active groups on the web, constantly looking for information. They are big users of social media. J&J should have known that.

If your ad is on the web you best make sure it speaks to the audience and not condescends to them because it only take a split second for a post to go up on twitter and another split second for many to respond.

This is a case of J&J still not understanding the web and a case of a good insight poorly executed by a second-rate ad agency.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@jessica Hats off to the weekend warrior who started it all. Remind me to stay on your good side, OK ;)

@wellesley Good points, all. I daresay a fair number of execs at J&J didn't even know what Twitter was before this weekend. Now, they'll never forget. I agree with Jessica G, though. They could turn the situation around if they wanted to, have it act in their favor. Unfortunately, turnaround time moves at reptilian speed at most big pharmas where lawyers have to sign off on even the smallest communique.